Saturday, March 25, 2006

Still Cold On Florida Beaches


(Royal Terns)

On Florida beaches spring is the season for freezing your feathers off while you get a sunburn. Human spring-breakers arrive and feel they must spend time scantilly clad (God bless them) at the beach, because after all, this is Florida. The challenge for those college kids is a day like today when the sun is brilliant in a cloudless blue sky, but the air temp this morning is 36 F. Couple that with a stiff breeze off the ocean and you are in the freeze while you fry paradox. And if you actually go in the water...brrrrr.
Even these royal terns have sense enough to hang out on the beach.

(Sanderling in molt...I think)

Later in the summer, Sanderlings will be mostly white and run back and forth along the moving wave line. They track the edge of each rolling wave grabbing little invertebrates tumbled out of the sand by the receding water. Very comical, like the tourist wearing shoes at the beach who tries to outrun the onrushing wavelets.

(Young Laughing Gulls)

Later, these juveniles will develop a distinct black cap and be easy to tell from our other gull species. Most of these shore birds spend a few years in juvenile plumage stages that are different from the adults.

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Ringbilled Gull and Least Tern

I'm pretty sure that is a Least Tern. They are very common on our beaches and have even adapted to nesting on large, flat big box store roofs near the coast. When I was a ranger at Fort Matanzas, we spent a lot of effort and time posting and protecting their beach nest sites.

All of these bird pics were taken on a breezy cold day at St. Augustine beach. It wasn't a great day for their feeding efforts, so most were just hunkered down against the cold.

Later, their high metabolism will demand that they actively search for food, cold wind or not.

The human spring-breakers will be doing the same thing, much to the delight of local restaurant owners.


Wayne said...

I love watching the sanderlings, on those occasions when I'm actually at the beach (and only in the winter), instead of 300 miles away.

I've never seen any royal terns though - very handsome.

It's been a cold spring here too!

John Cowart said...

Last night Ginny & I went out for supper and watched people in the restaurant parking lot. We could tell yankees from native Floridians: we were bundled in coats; they all wore shorts and tee shirts!

Floridacracker said...

300 miles from seawater? I would shrivel up and die.

A dead giveaway. The reverse scene is when we go north and play excitedly in the 3 day old dirty snow while the yanks shake their heads and wonder.

roger said...

nice multiple pics in one post! i like the mirror images in the last 2. it's a hundred miles from us to the ocean, but only 1 mile to puget sound. salt water but no waves. 36 degrees is cool enough for a sauna.

Anonymous said...

We like to play like sanderlings---running along as close to the water as we can without letting the waves touch us.

Hmmm---that sounds kinda like tourists, doesn't it?

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Great photography here, FC. Really beautiful. Same dilemma in California. The tourists arrive and expect to go swimming, and they head straight into the frigid Pacific, while the rest of us look on, amused.

Floridacracker said...

I accidently figured out Picasa multiple posting out this morning...was it really that easy all along? I feel somewhat akin to a fool.

It's okay to be "touristy" after all, no one knows you on vacation.

I did that once as a teen. Hit the California beach in June and almost froze to death in the water. At the same time of the year, our water temps would be in the 80's. Brrrrr...crazy west coast currents...

OldHorsetailSnake said...

So what are you doing in St. Augustine? Certainly not checking out the spring-breakers.

Deb said...

We Minnesotans have been known to act strangely when confronted with warming sunlight after a long cold winter. I have photos of myself sunbathing when there is still snow cover on the ground. We even take dips in Lake Superior at Park Point Beach (the only really sandy beach this end of Superior) when the water temp is in the fifties.

In my adult life, however, I would put on a big warm hooded sweatshirt and take pleasure in observing and identifying all of the shorebirds.

Tim Rice said...

Great pics. And I always say that if you're at the beach, you have to at least dip your toes in the water no matter how cold. Of course though I'm not there in the winter most times. I make an exception for that. :)

And then there is that certain temporary thrill to plunge into what almost feels like ice cold water. ;)

Floridacracker said...

I'm not dead ;)

Brrrrr. Sunbathing in snow. Better not show Pablo, he was bedazzled by the snowy towel shot :)

I confess to surfing and diving in December when the water temp was ridiculously cold. Like Deb said, "In my adult life however..."

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Thanks for the bird facts for those of us who don't live in Florida, but like to visit.

Spring break started Friday and it seems rather cold this year...but maybe because Spring break used to be in April not March...long ago.

When the temp reaches 40 and sunny you see the college students in shorts & tees 50 they sunbathe, brrrr.

Floridacracker said...

They are probably all fueled by those energy drinks that are all the rage now...that or margueritas.

doubleknot said...

Great bird pictures - thanks for the info.

Rurality said...

I just love how the Royal Terns take on that bald look for the winter!

I really do enjoy the beach more in the winter I think, unless it's too windy. Less people, more birds. :)